6 Phrases All Real Estate Investors Should Ban From Their Vocabularies

by | BiggerPockets.com

As human beings, we’re all prone to making excuses for ourselves. Everyone deals with insecurities and fears — it’s natural. For anyone looking to have a successful business of any kind, getting past the excuses born out of these fears and negative thoughts is a crucial first step. I am a huge believer in mindset. I truly believe the proper mindset is one of the key factors in everyone’s success, no matter the business.

In some of my previous hundred or so articles, I have stressed that real estate investing is no different than any other business. If you treat it like a hobby, then you will have the same success you would have with a hobby. However, if you treat your real estate investing as a business, then you can have the kind of success we all hope to have in business. It requires leaving the excuses behind.

If we continue to buy into our own excuses as real estate investors and professionals, we’ll never achieve our full potential. In the spirit of self-improvement, let’s deconstruct some of the most common excuses we give ourselves and others. These are the sentences that we have to leave behind if we want to be great.

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6 Sentences Holding You Back from a Successful Business

“I’m too busy.”

Busy, busy, busy. We’re always busy. While it’s true that many people do have jam-packed days every day of the week, business can often became a potent excuse. It sounds valid, and we may very well have a lot on our plates, but busyness is a business killer.


For one, it creates a wall that hinders change. We aren’t willing to re-prioritize, to examine possibilities, to change to accommodate another opportunity. The real reason we claim busyness probably has more to do with insecurities or a lack of interest. Everyone on earth has the same time allotted to them — and we’re rarely as busy as we say we are.

A second reason it is a business killer is that we all make time for what we want to make time for. Often times those wants include things that have nothing to do with business. Socializing. Workouts. Hobbies. Our schedules are often filled with extra-curricular activities, which is not a bad thing. Those things are only bad when they fill our schedule and prevent us from allotting the time needed to make our real estate businesses successful.

Related: How to Use Positive Triggers to Be a More Productive Investor

“I don’t have the experience.”

While not having experience in one area or another is a legitimate concern, it’s not a good reason to forgo opportunity. You don’t get experience if you don’t try in the first place. That is often where we miss the true lifecycle of business. None of us starts with experience. We all start at the same place and build from the bottom.

This excuse is often rooted in a sense of perfectionism — not in an “anything worth doing is worth doing right” way. This insidious perfectionism says that nothing is worth doing unless you get it right the first time. Truly valuable experience is built on failure and success alike.

If you lack experience, this is the time to get it. A successful business grows with and from experience. The only way to get it is to go for it.

“Now’s not a good time.”

Ask yourselves — is there ever going to be perfect timing? This excuse can be valid if you’re over capacity or burning out. It really might not be a good time personally. But in many cases, for real estate investors and professionals in any field, timing has more to do with market conditions. While yes, timing is important, it’s no reason not to start in the first place. Your timing might be off, and that’s okay. At least you’ll have done something.

“I need more money.”

This excuse can feel very real when you genuinely feel strapped for cash. Maybe your business is struggling at a low point or emergencies have drained your resources away. The issue, though, is when you say it and do nothing to solve the problem. Everyone can cut expenses and find alternative routes to find funding. For real estate investors, it may be a simple case of being an entry-level investors with tastes that exceed the price point. Most of us have to start small. Then grow.

For everyone reading this article, here is a little historical tidbit. On more than one occasion, I have had to sit my wife down and make sure she fully understood exactly how little money we had. As in, I can pay this month’s bills, but next month…? In those instances, “I need more money” never entered my thoughts as a stopping point, but only as a hurdle. I have made it over those hurdles and gone on to far exceed my own expectations each time.

Money is only an issue for those willing to allow it to stop them. Creativity, desire and willingness to take on risk and hard work are the tools that real estate investors everywhere use to get over that hurdle.

“It’s not worth it.”

This excuse demands examination. There are many real reasons as to why an opportunity may not feel worth it to you. Valid excuses would be things like:

  • It doesn’t fit with my mission, brand or portfolio.
  • I have weighed the risks, and it isn’t something I can wisely pursue.
  • This opportunity will not further my overall business goals.
  • After careful assessment, this project/property is bigger than I’m able to take on.

“It’s not worth it,” however, can be a very hollow excuse if you haven’t carefully examined your reasoning. Deep down, maybe you just don’t want to do it.

Granted, we all want projects and opportunities that excite us — but boring, bread-and-butter opportunities are a necessary part of stable growth. Don’t overlook opportunities because they aren’t “ideal.” Just because they don’t inspire your passions in the moment doesn’t mean they’ll be a waste. You never know what doors could be opened.

“I can’t.”

Remove this sentence entirely from your vocabulary!

The problem with this sentence, with this excuse, is that your words matter and they absolutely materialize. Whether you can or you cannot, saying out loud that you cannot do something — saying “I can’t” — will end all possibility of  you doing it. In every case, when you say you can’t, you never even try.

Related: 5 Steps to Banish Negative Influences (to Become Happier & More Productive!)

You’ll find that most successful people have at one point or another doubted their innate ability to tackle the challenge set before them. We say that we’re not good enough. Someone better should handle it. When it comes to our personal and professional lives, negativity towards ourselves can be devastating to the success of a business.

You are good enough. You may fail, but you can try. If you truly believe in your business, investments and passions, don’t let naysayers, from inside your own head or critics on the outside, deter you try shooting for your goals.

How do you overcome excuses and obstacles to your professional goals?

Share your experience in the comments.

About Author

Chris Clothier

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.


  1. Hey Chris,
    Thanks man, I needed to hear exactly this, right now today.
    I allowed someone to sideswipe a difficult but doable situation and shot myself in the rear. Taking all that transpired in a short time into a panic decided that what had been difficult was no longer even doable. I got advice from naysayers right out of the gate and prepared to throw in the towel, sympathy offered seemed a fitting mood then.
    Some new contacts in the know were prepared to assist me in whatever decision I decided to choose, pass or fail. A new home owner that worked for the legal team formed a thought in my mind that I couldn’t have tried every possible solution. Today I found the courage to call that person and let her know that she was right I couldn’t possibly have tried everything. The real true fact being that I hadn’t tried even the original plan. For whatever reason personal problems of a relatively simple nature seemed overwhelming and I just wanted them to end.
    Nobody can make you win if you quit but someone that can’t believe you would quit without a fight can certainly get your attention and make you wonder why you would throw away 10 yrs. of work to get a moment of setback ended. Your post is like proof positive that the pity pot yields what you plant in it in abundance but the fruit of that seed is poison and respect is worth making the attempt to win even if you might fail.

    • Chris Clothier

      Gary –

      I am glad that you were able to find some encouragement from the article and I wanted to remind you of a point I have made in other articles from the past. You will become the 6 people you surround yourself with. So if they are naysayers, you may never get past GO.

      I appreciate your reading the article and just remember that every investor out there started at the same point. We all start with the first deal and if someone tells you they never lost a deal, did a dumb deal or had a naysayer chirping in their ear, then they are probably lying!

      You can do great things and I sincerely hope you find huge success.

      Thanks again for the comments and best of luck to you!


    • Chris Clothier

      Assaf –

      Amazing! We hear those types of comments all the time as investors as business persons. Of course, we know that luck plays a part in all of our success, but it is what we do with that luck that sets us apart from others. Luck and success have nothing to do with each other. Luck and hard work are what make the difference!

      Best of luck to you Assaf! Thanks for taking the time to leave your comments.


  2. Christy Barton

    “For real estate investors, it may be a simple case of being an entry-level investors with tastes that exceed the price point. Most of us have to start small. Then grow.”

    This is something I struggle with almost on a weekly basis. It’s difficult to sit and wait, and it’s a real challenge to have a small nest egg and want to do LARGE things with it, instead of just letting it grow. Our business is still very much new and yet I am always aiming for the big investments I read so much about here on BP. I have to remember that although it may not seem like it, waiting really is a verb. The time will come when we are ready to start building a portfolio but for now, we just have to stay focused and keep growing more and more.

    Thank you for reminding us all to be patient yet still determined.

    • Chris Clothier

      Hi Christy,

      Thank you so much for reading the article and for leaving your comments. It is amazing what happens when we stay focused on having success. Small wins lead to bigger wins, which lead to really big wins.

      I am a dreamer. I have big dreams and really, really want to do even bigger things than what I have already accomplished. So I, like you, have to keep myself in check and just focus on what I can do today to do better – get better – and set the tone for better things to come!

      All the best to you and would love to hear about all your successes as you grow.


  3. Jason Miller

    Great ideas for setting your mindset of solution orientation. The great thing about investors is the continuous drive for solutions to every problem (can be their Achilles heal too).

    BTW: I’m curious how many other investors don’t allow “Can’t” to be used by their kids for very similar reasons you outlined?


    • Chris Clothier

      Jason – Thanks for reading the article and leaving your comments. You are correct on the achilles heal comment. Sometimes the Superman “I can do anything” mentality, while being in the right frame, can also get us into trouble. Great comments.

      As for the sidenote – who knows, but it is certainly something everyone should be watching. We all should eliminate that phrase from our use and the use of our children for sure!


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